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Chris Van Heerden’s Girlfriend Was First Detained By Russian Authorities While Visiting Relatives

Posted on 02/22/2024

By: Sean Crose

The girlfriend of former IBO welterweight titlist Chris Van Heerden remained in custody in Russia as of Thursday. As was previously reported, 33 year old Ksenia Karelina has been detained by the Russian government on suspicion of providing money to the Ukrainian military, which Russia is at war with.

Sky News reports that Van Heerden “said she went to Russia on 2 January to see her 90-year-old grandmother and her other family members and intended to return to Los Angeles two weeks later.” Van Heerden is quoted as saying Karelina “was like, ‘I’m going to be fine, it’s good. I’m Russian, I’m good.” Van Heerden also admitting to having feelings of guilt. “This is also eating away at me a little bit,” he said, “because I bought that plane ticket.”

Per Sky News, Karelina found herself being detained at the airport after arriving in Russia. Although she was eventually allowed to continue with her trip, the authorities held on to Karelina’s cell phone. Late in January, Karelina informed Van Heerden that she was on her way to retrieve the cell phone. It was the last time the fighter was able to speak with her. “US officials became aware that she (Karelina) had been arrested on 8 February,” Sky News stated.

The FSB (think the KGB, only a modern version) has stated it “suppressed the illegal activities of a 33-year-old resident of Los Angeles, who has dual citizenship of Russia and the United States of America, involved in providing financial assistance to a foreign state in activities directed against the security of our country.” Footage of a woman who is believed to be Karelina is seen in a video as she’s being led through a building by a uniformed official. The prisoner has a winter hat covering her eyes.

Boxing Insider reached out to the United States State Department today for information. A Department Spokesperson responded with the following:

  • “We have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas.”
  • “We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in Russia.”
  • “We take seriously our commitment to assist U.S. citizens abroad and provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
  • “Out of respect for her privacy, we have nothing further at this time.”

Van Heerden has taken to social media to ask the public to pray for Karelina, “as her strength and courage are being tested to the utmost.”

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